Author Topic: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more  (Read 17521 times)

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Max PB

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Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« on: September 26, 2012, 09:11:03 PM »
I'm new to this site and have had a quick(ish) look through topics over the past few days and can't find a section that best fits my own questions and my own passion for the organ in church. So I hope you will forgive me starting a new topic.

Does anyone on this site share my sheer excitement for the church organ?  I'm not takling about numbers of stops or applause after voluntaries, nor wind pressure nor necessarily the mechanical genius of the thing (although I am in awe of the beauty of the mechanical solutions developed over the years, and very aware of the ever-present symbiosis of maths, physics, art and wonder [can symbiosis exist between four things?!]).

But help, I'm getting lost in parentheses already, so can I ask my question? Why did the organ get into the church in the first place?  Was it just to give notes to the choir? Byrd, Tallis, Palestrina, Gibbons, Bull, Tye... did they need an organ? Some of them wrote extensively for the organ, maybe to give the choir a rest. Maybe because there are times in an ancient building at times of ancient ritual where the organ just does the job so much better than anything else available.

The organ is a solo instrument, but more importantly an accompanying one too.  Just as the priest has to lead the congregation, so does the organ. But whereas the priest rarely functions alongside the congregation (controversial statement?) the organist's skill is in supporting and developing everything around him or her. The season of the year, the season of the church, the weather, the life, birth, sickness or death of participants, the aptitude of the choir, the sense of the lessons or the thrust of the sermon. Or the stillness and serenity and hugeness of communion, or the anticipation and preparation before a service. 

The organ can do all these things better than any words or any other instrument in an ancient and resounding building - small organs for small buildings, bigger organs for big buildings. The organist is key to reflecting the occasion and to developing it beyond the capacity of any of the other participants.  There are times for the organ to be silent, and times for grandeur, and calm, and shock. 

Ritual is enhanced by the organ, both through sympathy and by stark contrast.

And all of this is part of a to thousand year old ritual. Always changing. Not always right. But the river of our lives is surely enriched by the organ more than anything else manmade.

is there place in this forum for talking about when the organ has made a difference? or what some of our significant experiences have been as listeners or players?


KB7DQH

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2012, 02:29:34 AM »
Quote
is there place in this forum for talking about when the organ has made a difference? or what some of our significant experiences have been as listeners or players?

Yes, by all means... this is certainly as good a place as any ;) ;) ;) 

And to help this along I have commented elsewhere about the talents of one Thomas Mellan, an organist/composer who by now is all of 18 years of age...  His compositions have changed my perception of what the pipe organ is capable of musically...Some of his compositions are more like "tone paintings" rather than "tone poems"...stuff one normally associates with electronic keyboard instruments rather than something employing pressurized air... 

This could be fairly contrasted against other musicians who attempt to get their electronic keyboard instruments to sound like pipe organs :o ;)

Eric
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The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

revtonynewnham

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2012, 08:26:24 AM »
Hi

Peter William's book "The King of Instruments" will give you the history of how the organ was introduced into church, although its really widespread use came pretty late - post 1850 for all but the largest/wealthiest churches (to grossly simplify the story).  I think I've recently seen a note that a new edition of the book is out/due to come out.

Every Blessing

Tony

Janner

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2012, 09:46:15 AM »
I'm new to this site and have had a quick(ish) look through topics over the past few days and can't find a section that best fits my own questions and my own passion for the organ in church. So I hope you will forgive me starting a new topic.

Does anyone on this site share my sheer excitement for the church organ?...........................etc.


Excellent! But it makes so much difference if those in charge of 'running' the place appreciate and are susceptible to all these things. If, however they do not, and are not, and are fixated only on dissecting words and readings, then the musical side tends to suffer. I find it remarkable how some individuals can be so engrossed in this sentence or that, or particular about using the 'correct' language, and yet so casual about choosing hymns and tunes appropriate for the occasion or season. Sometimes the choice is simply "There was a space for a hymn there, that one was in this book, and I never use hymns from the other book because it's old fashioned."

Often I think a clue lies in how they read. If their reading is in a monotone, with no sense of rhythm or metre, then the musical choices are likely to be a bit random as well. But of course that opens up a whole new can of worms! And as for taking note of the music before and after, and whether it enhances the theme or mood of the service, well, sometimes I think the organist may as well play "Three blind mice!" Obviously these remarks don't apply in every case, but it's a disease which, worryingly, seems to be spreading.

Of course words and readings form a major part of worship, but music is so important in setting the mood sometimes. I have noticed this when, occasionally, I have been in church while the organist has been practising, and again when the building has been empty.

When the building is empty, passers-by tend to come in and look around. A few may even pick up a guide and take an interest in the history. Some may even sit for a moment in quiet contemplation, but few stay for any appreciable length of time. However, when the organist is practising, the building seems to come alive. To walk in to music being played, by a real live musician, is so much more welcoming, and it’s surprising how many casual visitors sit and listen.

I recently watched several different visitors, couples and a young family, come in one afternoon while the organist was practising for a forthcoming concert. They took their usual look around, and then sat quietly in a pew, clearly captivated. Most stayed quite a long time, but the prize went to the elderly couple who stayed right to the end. Before they left they told me how much they had enjoyed their visit, and gave a little clap for the organist.

That sort of thing speaks for itself. Churches are not just places of worship on Sundays. You never know who may wander in at any time just to sit for a moment, and who knows; maybe even appreciate your music!
« Last Edit: September 27, 2012, 01:12:08 PM by Janner »

Max PB

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2012, 01:25:32 PM »
Thank you for your replies.

Young Thomas Mellan certainly enjoys himself at the console, exploring all the different sections.  It's wonderful to see young people getting enthused by such versatile and extraordinary instruments. Only a pipe organ has such a stunning range, and very few of us ever get a chance to play the big ones, and even then, how often do we get a chance to explore the breadth of every stop?  I'm not sure I get the comment on making a pipe organ sound like an electronic one. Maybe it's the fact we don't often hear individual pipes at the extremes - unless we have a diet of Messiaen?

I'll look out for Peter Williams' book on the history of the organ, but my question wasn't so much about the historical angle so much as why did the organ get into church at all?  My proposal is that the organ is not only the best instrument at supporting the rituals of our worship but also it is the best at enhancing our experience.  Sometimes sympathetically to how we were feeling, and sometimes by challenging. Of course this does depend on the organist and on the organ. Both of which are on the endangered list.  But then there are some dreadful pipe organs out there that really should be retired, and if a church doesn't have an organist then what's the point of having an organ? Then we get to the chicken and egg question and whether people want to go to church in the first place.  Too big a subject for this topic I think. So I'll go back to the experience of hearing the organ.

Thank you for the story of people listening to an organist rehearse.  It's always encouraging that some people enjoy listening and certainly in my experience people do often sit for longer than they might have done.  I'm sure some people are driven away mind you, especially those set in their ways who weren't expecting to find company, let alone live music, in the church.

I've been told off by churchwardens for making too much noise while they are trying to tidy up (but you have to practise for Easter morning some time during Lent!) and a member of the congregation shouted at me to stop after a service for playing the Devil's music. Is Langlais really that bad? Poor chap had realised it was Roman Catholic music and the daft church I belonged to at the time had taught its people that only C of E was right and nothing else was to be tolerated.  Still, not much fun trying to get those notes right when someone's standing beside you shouting at you.  Apparently I needed to let the Holy Spirit choose the music - so obviously the Holy Ghost is not French.  Bach didn't offend, curiously enough.

People may not listen to a closing voluntary (it's the signal that says "start talking loudly") but usually in my experience people do stop and listen at other times of day.  People have thanked me for playing "for them" and have asked for more.  An American tourist was ecstatic about the new Klais organ in Bath Abbey after I played something loud. A lady in a Sussex church was very moved by Master Tallis' Testament on a weekday lunchtime following a terrorist attack in London. 

Church cleaners and flower ladies usually love to have music while they work. I do tend to apologise before I start if I'm about to practise something noisy or difficult, but, just as in a service, people seem to prefer contrast and a varied selection.  And then of course a quiet Bach choral doesn't always win against the hoover!

I remember playing in a tiny church in Devon. A single manual instrument. I was practising for a wedding that afternoon and a retired priest came and sat. He asked me to play Appleford's tune for the hymn "Lord Jesus Christ". He wanted all the verses and then thanked me very much. It was one of the hymns for his wife's funeral the day before. I felt very privileged to have been there.

The organ mechanism then jammed on the penultimate chord of the Trumpet Tune I played for the Bride's entrance. Irritating to have an F blasting out for the final chord of C major. So, hands off and quickly shove in the 5 or 6 stops. Music whisked to the organ stool and the front panel of the organ/music desk hurriedly removed and handed to wife/page turner.  Hands inside the organ untangling the mechanism and straightening the rods so they wouldn't get stuck again.  The priest hadn't noticed a thing and carried on with his VERY SHORT welcome and his invitation to sing the first hymn.  The best man had noticed what I was doing and looked very pale. Organ panel back in place, music up, stops out and away with the hymn. Nobody else realised there had been any problem.

Now, you couldn't do that with an electronic!!

All the best,
Max



 

David Pinnegar

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2012, 03:40:36 PM »
Dear Max

THanks so much for your contribution.

I'm hideously busy at the moment involved with concerts and tuning in a special way that tunes the instrument to the language of the music, current music being played in a universally foreign and meaningless language . . . perhaps better explained by http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnYITP11UgQ so don't have time to help to take this subject forward quite at the moment but hope that members will do so. I'm firmly convinced of the overlap between organs, symbolism and faith . . .

Somewhere among the Zurich Resolution reports there may be mention of how wood, metal and leather into which wind is blown and sound is brought to life is a metaphor for the bringing to spiritual life of the body into which wind is introduced.

Best wishes

David P

organforumadmin

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2012, 08:30:56 PM »
Hi!


A response from Eric in the US is so profoundly important to organs that it has been split into a new thread - http://www.organmatters.com/index.php/topic,1581.0.html


Are organs to be the scapegoat for the intellectual vacuum within the church that has driven away thinking and unthinking people alike?


Best wishes


Forum Admin
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 01:12:40 PM by organforumadmin »

KB7DQH

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2012, 05:28:03 PM »
Quote
Are organs to be the scapegoat for the intellectual vacuum within the church that has driven away thinking and unthinking people alike?

I sure hope not! 

Because...http://chronicle.augusta.com/things-do/applause/2012-11-02/young-musicians-flocking-organ

Quote
Young musicians flocking to organ
By Kelly Jasper   
Staff Writer
Friday, Nov. 2, 2012   




An unusual thing is happening among young musicians, said Brad Cunningham, the organist at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Augusta.

The pipe organ is, dare he say it, “almost trendy.”

No, really, Cunningham said. He has proof.

His instrument of choice is enjoying a resurgence of popularity in younger generations.

Cunningham himself teaches lessons to local high school students on Reid’s 3,000-pipe Schantz-built organ.

Students at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School helped install a pipe organ in one of the practice rooms this summer.

Augusta State University now has four organ students studying with Jim Nord, Cunningham said.

And perhaps most exciting, the young organists are looking forward to an upcoming concert with Christopher Houlihan, hailed as one of America’s premiere young organists, and a bright star lighting the path for countless other young musicians embracing the organ.

Houlihan, 25, will present a concert at Reid on Thursday.

The front row seats won’t be pews, but bean bags. They’re meant for children ages 8 to 12, who will be allowed to sit just feet from the organ for a better view of Houlihan’s footwork.

“What cooler instrument is there, with all of the sounds and pedals?” Houlihan said by phone this week.

The concert is part of the Schaeffer Organ Concert Series, named for John Gerhardt Schaeffer, a former Reid organist and Augusta State University music professor.

Four years ago, Houlihan was just starting his senior year of college.

He recorded his first two CDs while still in college, prompting classmates to form the “Houli Fans.” The fan group, which has its own Facebook page, not only claps at concerts, but cheers.

This past summer, Houlihan attracted national attention by performing the six organ symphonies of Louis Vierne in marathon sessions in six cities across the U.S.

He’ll play one in Augusta on Thursday.

“It’s a whole symphony for solo organ,” he said. “I’ve got a whole symphony under my fingertips.”

The diversity of sounds that come out of an organ fascinate kids, he said.

“It’s so colorful and exciting and really explores all of the sounds an organ has,” he said. “It’s loud and frightening, delicate, sensual, exotic and everything in between.”

Houlihan first discovered the organ in church as a child.

“The sound of it could just rip your face off,” he said.

Needless to say, Houlihan was impressed. He started lessons at age 12 with John Rose and went on to study at Trinity College in Connecticut and The Juilliard School in New York.

Grovetown High School student Nick Lowery picked up the organ two years ago, at 15.

The now 17-year-old studies with Cunningham.

“One of the different things that has fascinated me is all the different sounds you can get out of it,” he said.

Nate Thompson agreed.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Thompson, a 14-year-old freshman at Davidson.

Both say they’re planning to attend Houlihan’s performance in Augusta.

“Old is new,” Cunningham said. “Young people are returning to the organ.”

He thinks he might be able to explain it.

“In the mid-1970s, we had a moment in the American church,” he said. Worship took a turn toward contemporary, and now there’s an entire generation of kids who have grown up without organ music.

“They’ve never heard anything like this before,” Cunningham said. “It’s a different kind of instrument.”

Organists such as Houlihan help their cause.

“He’s a great representative for the organ,” he said. “He gets rid of the rules. He’s doing things differently. He’s going, ‘Why not have fun with the pipe organ?’ ”

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Christopher Houlihan in concert, presented by the Schaeffer Organ Concert Series

WHERE: Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, 2261 Walton Way

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday; childcare is offered beginning at 7 p.m.

COST: Free

LEARN MORE: See christopherhoulihan.com

Eric
KB7DQH

The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

KB7DQH

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2013, 02:37:57 PM »
The following news article about the creation of a new pipe instrument reveals how the "organ" becomes a "symbol"... 

Quote
The $950,000 organ planned for the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew will no doubt be an impressive instrument with its 2,477 pipes, and it will also be an impressive symbol.

By using parts of the organs in the predecessor churches, it will cement their 1996 union and celebrate the growth of church membership.

The organ is being named for Kitty Esterly, who said it “will be a  symbol of the refurbishment of Wilmington. The city is coming back.”

She said “it’s a great honor” to have it named for her, “but it’s also intimidating. The church belongs to the city.”

Esterly, a member of the church or its predecessors since 1957, worked for 50 years as a pediatrician and leader of neonatal and pediatric units at Wilmington and Christiana hospitals. At various times, she was chairwoman of the altar guild, member of the Episcopal Church Women, and she served in the vestry and as senior warden. She was honorary chairwoman of the capital campaign for the organ project.

She looks forward to a “beautiful” organ that will handle classical music as well as popular tunes, and one that sounds good alone and accompanying a chorus.

David Christopher, the church’s organist and music director, is planning for all that. He said leaders of the Delaware Symphony are interested in programming at the Shipley Street church after the new organ is installed in 2016, and choral groups associated with the church will all benefit from singing with a new organ.

On Sunday, the church marked the name for the organ with an event that featured organ music by Bach and Enrico Morricone and a Gabriel Rheinberge organ-violin piece with Barbara Govatos.

The old organ was deteriorating in multiple ways, Christopher said, including air leaks, sticky pipes, unstable wind supply and difficulty in staying in tune. Patchwork repairs were recurring every few weeks, so last year the church temporarily started using an electronic organ.

Church staffers and members inspected 15 to 20 organs before selecting Quimby Pipe Organs of Missouri. The new organ will incorporate pipes from both the St. Andrew’s and St. Matthew’s organs, particularly ones as long as 16 feet or created for special effects – elements costly to reproduce.

Christopher hopes parts of the organ from the Cathedral Church of St. John, which closed last year, will be included, but that organ is remaining intact until the building is sold. The organ will have 41 ranks of pipes; its console has three keyboards (61 notes each) and a pedal keyboard (32 notes).

The goal is to get a highly functional design with modern conveniences and historic touches.

“We are building a new organ in the same style as the old ones, incorporating certain key aspects,” he said, noting that the organ will symbolize  how “the two churches have blended in a healthy, well-functioning relationship.”
[/size]

In this case we are observing the organ representing the condition of  a community within the influence of of an individual instrument.  If one were to widen one's observational viewpoint significantly and  "view" the entirety of civilized society and relate that to the "state of the organ" what do we  "see"... and where do we "see" it???

I will refer to another topic here briefly, and suggest a thought experiment:  What happens to "civilized society" if we "kill all the organs"???

Eric
KB7DQH 

« Last Edit: October 17, 2013, 02:41:29 PM by KB7DQH »
The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

David Pinnegar

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2013, 10:53:41 AM »
I will refer to another topic here briefly, and suggest a thought experiment:  What happens to "civilized society" if we "kill all the organs"???

Dear Eric

Most thought provoking post which demonstrates the unsung importance both of organ and organist in bringing people, and communities, together. In the context of worship, of course, it's a bringing together not of people passively receiving as at a pop concert but actively singing, giving of themselves.

Your link of civilised society to organs is interesting. Apparently Churchill during World War 2 received a suggestion to cut the budget of the arts. His reply was along the lines of "Why else are we fighting this war?"

What case are you making for suggesting the organ to be special within the arts?

Best wishes

David P

Paul Duffy

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2013, 02:03:37 PM »
'I will refer to another topic here briefly, and suggest a thought experiment:  What happens to "civilized society" if we "kill all the organs?"'

One wonders if society is truly 'civilised' anymore. I vaguely remember some film in which Tommy Lee Jones remarks to Samuel L Jackson that civilisation died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Looking at the world today it would be hard to disagree with that statement.

Best wishes,
Paul.

Ian van Deurne

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2013, 03:55:17 PM »
The question of why the organ got into the church in the first place is simple, there wasn't another building in the village/town/city that was big enough to accomodate it! The early accounts of organs in the middle ages seem to be more poetic than factual but there is certianly evidence that organs were in fair number from the 1350's, mostly in the area of Europe that is now Northern France and Belgium
today. At first the organs had no seperate stops, but comprised of a single "Blockwerk", (don't know the English name for that, sorry!) comprising of the lower foundation ranks (16, 8, 4) and a enormous Mixtuer, repeating in octaves and fifths. Connected to that might also have been a Cimbel, comprising of even higher pitched ranks, all sounding together. Therefore, the Mixtures and Cimbels today are what are left over from this mediaeval organ. What it was employed for and what music was played upon it is not really known. As far as I can ascertian it was orginally put there to make the largest noise possible.
       After this, the organ slowly began to acquire for diversity in tone as the higher-sounding ranks were "stopped off", leaving the single ranks of 16, 8 and 4 able to be played seperately or together, the sound of the "full-organ" being reserved for more drmatic effect, such as the music of the til=me would allow. The organ then sterted to be employed to accompany the choir at times in plainsong, possibly completely or just supplying the cantus firmus whoe the choir sang the rest. This was the reason why the pedal organ was developed, not to supply the bass part, as is generally assumed by many people today. That came much later, in the mid 17th century with German composers such as Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654) and Heinrich Scheidemann (c.1595-1663) who wre taught in Amsterdam by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621), organist of the Oude Kerk who today is regarded as the "Father of Keyboard Music", and the "Maker of Organists" in his own time. He was also the first to give organ recitals, (sometimes daily) and so also the first to give public concerts in the modern sense.
       As the music became more sophisticated, small seperate organs were set up in the vicinity of the chior, especially to accomany the choir and at first were developed seperately from the main organ (mostly in the west end of the church). Only later did they migrate up to the main organ and sitting on the front of the gallery where their more sutle sounds could be heard to lead the singing, which by now the main congregation of the church were also expected to sing
       As regards England, it happened the other way around. The earliest organs were of the small choir organ type, put there solely to accomany the almost enclosed choir, and this olnly happened in large towns or cathedrals. Everywhere else used solo instruments, perhaps violins, flutes and bassoons. It easn't until the 1840's that organs in England started to acquire a status of their own, and not in the west end either most of the time. Thus the organ in England grew up around the liturgy, and not as a solo instrument, built to delight the local citizens. In fact, in my own country of the Netherlands, the organ was forbidded to have any role within the services.
      This is only an outline, this subject is far more complicated than just this and perhaps I might be able to elaborate on it at another time.
 

David Pinnegar

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2013, 01:05:20 PM »
Hi!

A couple of weeks ago my wife warned me that a particular service would be very moving. Accordingly I took my digital recorder and made a recording which will go onto YouTube shortly. Whilst looking for texts for the YouTube contribution I searched "Sursum Corda" and found http://www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/worshipandmusic/sermon-archive/sursum-corda directly relevant to this topic.

Best wishes

David P

David Pinnegar

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2013, 12:10:33 PM »
Hi!

I'm putting a link here to http://www.organmatters.com/index.php/topic,1800.msg8183.html with the example of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOWEykrxZ7s which is recording of the annual Service for the Faithful Departed, in all its ritual. Listening to this service most certainly brings that peace which the world cannot give and is testimony to the value of ritual.

Best wishes

David P

KB7DQH

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2014, 12:02:06 PM »
I submit the following for your consideration...

http://www.carrollspaper.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=16693

Quote

A passion for pipes
71-year-old J. Gordon Christensen touts the sacred power of music
J. Gordon Christensen said that only a pipe organ has the power to “proclaim the great victory of the risen Christ.”
J. Gordon Christensen said that only a pipe organ has the power to “proclaim the great victory of the risen Christ.”
On his tour of Russia, J. Gordon Christensen (right) discovered that the demand for organ music in the country far exceeded the supply. He joined forces with Russian attorney Dasha Ofsky (left) to found the Bach Research Library to provide sheet music for use at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, shown in the background. Some of the pieces of music used in the Carroll organ workshop will be donated to this library.
On his tour of Russia, J. Gordon Christensen (right) discovered that the demand for organ music in the country far exceeded the supply. He joined forces with Russian attorney Dasha Ofsky (left) to found the Bach Research Library to provide sheet music for use at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, shown in the background. Some of the pieces of music used in the Carroll organ workshop will be donated to this library.
By AUDREY INGRAM
Times Herald Staff Writer

November 5, 2013



CARROLL

Musical notes echo off the walls of the empty sanctuary, crescendoing to fill the cavernous room as late-afternoon sunlight filters softly through the stained glass windows of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Carroll.

A quick trip to the church balcony reveals the organist, 71-year-old J. Gordon Christensen of Council Bluffs. He is practicing his repertoire for a workshop he will lead in Carroll the following day.

Short in stature, his posture is stiff and formal as his hands move across the two rows of keys. A red-and-blue bow tie perches atop a crisp white shirt, his light gray suit jacket tossed aside and forgotten. Behind circular gold-rimmed spectacles, his eyes focus on the sheet music, expression stern in concentration.

Finishing the piece with a flourish, his silver-white mustache quirks up as a wide grin splits his face, transforming his rigid features. He raises twinkling eyes to glance across the top of the instrument in greeting.



ELEMENTARY MUSIC

A native of Nebraska, Christensen grew up in the heart of "cattle country" in the late 1940s. He pursued a love of music, receiving bachelor's and master's degrees in piano performance from Hastings College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, respectively. In the course of his studies, he was required to take organ classes.

He found himself impressed with the instrument's potential to elicit emotion, particularly in worship. He fell in love with its range of expression, exuded through a multitude of volumes and tones. It was a love his professors shared.

"We were told, rather emphatically, that if we ever came across a pipe organ that was at risk of being discarded or not used anymore, to demonstrate the value of the organ," Christensen said.

In the mid-1960s, he arrived in Imperial, Neb., to become an elementary music teacher, a position through which he shared his fervor for 41 years.

In the small town, population roughly 1,500, he also discovered a small Lutheran church on the verge of throwing out its pipe organ. He asked members of the congregation if he could be their organist for four consecutive Sundays, after which they could do what they wished with the instrument.

His first Sunday as organist at the Zion Lutheran Church was Sept. 29, 1968.

His last day as organist was May 27, 2009.

"It's something that I'm just passionate about, is pipe organ music," Christensen said, adding that he eventually completed his doctorate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with an organ emphasis.

In 1979-80, the church built a new facility and included a 27-rank, three-manual pipe organ, the largest between Lincoln, Neb., and the front range of the Rocky Mountains. In addition to playing Lutheran liturgies, or services, Christensen played for more than 400 weddings, sometimes for three generations of southwestern Nebraska families.

When school was out in the summer, the world became his stage. He conducted seminars and performed organ recitals across the Midwestern United States and Eastern Europe.

He moved to Council Bluffs in 2009, becoming the organist at St. Paul Lutheran Church there. Shortly after he began, his pastor, Nathan Sherrill, informed him that he would accompany Sherrill to Audubon each week for the Iowa District West Lutheran Confessions Study, where Christensen met about 30 Lutheran pastors, including Brian Licht of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Carroll. Licht asked Christensen to play for the Iowa District West Pastors Conference, held in Carroll in June.



THE CARROLL WORKSHOP

As awareness of the needs and potential of organists rose, the idea to hold a workshop was born. It was supported by Iowa District West President Paul Sieveking, who helped promote the event, as well as Thrivent Financial, a Lutheran insurance and investment company. The goal to have 14 attendees was surpassed when 21 organists registered, traveling from as far as the Minnesota border to attend the day-long seminar in mid-October.

"The importance of education is a strong conviction of mine, particularly for organists in smaller parishes, smaller churches, smaller communities," Christensen said.

Such musicians often lack the resources to shop for music and have minimal practice time. Also, volunteer organists are frequently not recognized or appreciated, he added.

To address these needs, Christensen brought a representative from Dietze Music of Nebraska, giving attendees the chance to browse its entire organ repertoire. The registration also included a 90-minute organ lesson for each registrant on the organ in his or her home church.

An underlying goal of Christensen's work is to "beat the bushes" to find young people willing to take organ lessons and carry on the tradition.

One such individual attending the workshop was 14-year-old Tim Schreiber of Plattsmouth, Neb. Dressed as impeccably as his teacher, Schreiber even sported his own bow tie, pink with blue dots.

Schreiber had grown up in a church with an organ and didn't realize the full value of it until it was gone. His family moved to Nebraska from Ohio, and his new church employed an electric keyboard instead.

"After a while it kind of hit me in the face that it wasn't the same," he said.

He began researching organ music via YouTube videos. Familiar with reading music from his work with the French horn in school band, Schreiber started to teach himself how to play the piano on his sister's keyboard. A few months ago, he began taking organ lessons from Christensen.

"There's such a diverse range of things you can play," he said of his interest in the instrument. "You can play something soft and smooth, or something hard and glorious and bold."



A POWERFUL INSTRUMENT

Nicknamed the "king of instruments," the organ, with its wide range of pitch and dynamics, is capable of "pulling and drawing out of the human spirit" a variety of responses, said Christensen.

"Only a pipe organ has the power as a single instrument to proclaim the great victory of the risen Christ," he said. "It has the potential for bringing the spirit of Christ into the human emotion and spiritual well-being in a very humbling way."

An organ almost always has two or three manuals, or keyboards, Christensen explained. Each note is played by an individual pipe. An organ is described by its number of ranks, or sets of pipes. If an organ has five ranks, then each key can play five sounds, or five pipes, depending on which stops are engaged. The stops are controlled by a row of oblong levers that run parallel to the keyboards. When a stop is registered, the wind chest beneath the set of pipes is opened, enabling the air to blow through it to make a sound.

Pipes can range in length from 6 inches to 64 feet; the longer the pipe, the lower the pitch. Christensen estimates that the organ at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Carroll has roughly 1,200 total pipes. The pipes are located behind a levered screen, which opens when the swell pedal is pushed down, increasing the volume. Most organs have 32 pedals.

Pipes are one of two types: flue or reed. Flue pipes operate like a police whistle, while reed pipes operate like a clarinet mouthpiece. In a flue pipe, the air flows through the space to create sound; in a reed pipe, the air strikes a piece of metal that vibrates to create sound.

These pipes encompass four families of sound. Reed pipes are denoted as the brass or woodwind orchestral instruments, such as trumpets or oboes. Flue pipes include the principal stop, the sound found only in a pipe organ; the flutes, with strong fundamental overtones that lend a "plaintive or pleading" sound; and the strings, generally soft and carrying best at low pitch levels. The organ also contains a set of celeste pipes, deliberately sharpened out of tune.

It is this range of musical opportunity that makes the pipe organ unique, Christensen explained.

Stops can build to become louder and more powerful, challenging and encouraging the congregation to sing louder as well. Or it can be quiet and meditative, the celeste keys creating a "heavenly" sound that "can bring the most haughty of worshippers right to their knees," he said.



ROOTS IN RELIGION

According to Christensen, the organ has a "historical identity" as a piece of Christendom.

The instrument first emerged in Christian music in the eighth century and has been a "key factor" in "virtually every Christian denomination" including Catholicism, Lutheranism and the Episcopal or Anglican churches, he said.

The instruments first appeared in the United States in early colonial days, arriving on the East Coast via ships from England. Companies quickly emerged, particularly in Massachusetts, and built organs well into the early 20th century.

As settlers pushed west, they carried organs with them, pieces housed in covered wagons.

Christensen, who is writing a book on the history of pipe organs in Nebraska, has discovered church records in Omaha detailing how an organ was transported across the Missouri River, the pipes and console rolled up the riverbank atop logs that served as wheels. In York, Neb., there stands an organ built in Massachusetts in 1888 that is still played regularly today.

In the course of his research, he has visited 16 churches, one in a town of only 240 people, all of which had some sort of pipe organ.



CLASH WITH COMMUNISM

These close ties with religious practice left many organs standing silent and neglected as churches were closed under communism in Eastern Europe in the latter part of the 20th century. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Christensen was one of the first people in, traveling to Slovakia to help restore a school building that had been operated by a Lutheran church.

When it reopened, he returned, traveling with four other teachers and 15 American teenagers who studied with the Lithuanian students in a four-week long English-immersion program. During one of these trips, Christensen played an organ recital in the small Slovakian village.

The community of 4,000 people had only two churches, one Catholic and one Lutheran. When he started practicing on the Lutheran organ, the first time the instrument had been used in decades, the leathers of the bellows ripped. A physical-education teacher fixed the splits in the bellows with medical tape so they could once again supply air to the pipe work.

Crisis avoided, Christensen continued practicing. About an hour from the start of the recital, the on-off switch failed. The church was already filled with nearly 500 people, he recalled. The pastor, who spoke no English, tapped Christensen, who spoke no Slovakian, and produced the equivalent of a penny, which he wedged into the switch to connect the wiring.

"The dear man had to sit there holding this all the time because if you let go, the organ would turn off," Christensen explained. "This pastor stood beside the console holding that penny in place for about two hours so that recital would happen."

On another trip, Christensen traveled on a three-week tour conducting workshops and performing concerts in three Russian cities, including a recital at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the Russian equivalent of the Juilliard School in the U.S. It was organized by one of his former grade-school students who had become the head of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod missions in Europe and Asia. The recitals were conducted not in churches but in concert halls.

"(My translator and I) were warned that we were both at risk of being arrested because we were the first Christians in about 70 years to appear on a public stage taking quotes from the Holy Scriptures and playing sacred music," he said.

In Europe, it is customary for audience members to give male performers flowers. Christensen was unaware of the tradition, but at the end of the first section, a very poor Russian woman walked onstage and approached him.

"Her hair was absolutely ratty, she had no teeth and was wearing a heavy kind of wool coat that was dirty, ragged and tatty, and she handed me a sway of evergreens that were obviously from a very poorly maintained bush, tied with an overly used strip of ribbon, but it was the best she had to offer," he said. "I still have that ribbon."



SWING IN POPULARITY

Despite its power, Christensen has seen the use of the pipe organ decrease dramatically throughout the United States. He attributes much of this decline to cultural influence he deems "theologically misleading."

"With it has come flimsy texts that are exceedingly repetitive and even secular, but not scripturally based," he said.

While mainstream music has its place in pop culture, Christensen said, he "seriously questions" its use in worship, particularly in relation to communion.

"It's not spiritually challenging, nor edifying," he said.

However, Christensen believes the pendulum is swinging "back to traditional worship patterns."

He cites the $90,000 restoration of a pipe organ in the small rural community of Adair, as well as the installation of the first North American-built organ in a chapel at the University of Oxford in England by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders of Lake City, as one piece of evidence of this swing. A second piece of evidence came from a contact at Paraclete Press who told him that composers are offering a greater volume and quality of sacred organ and sacred choir music, so much so that the Massachusetts publishing house can no longer print them all.

Finally, he referenced an increasing amount of activity in the American Guild of Organists, which has chapters in Omaha and Lincoln, Neb., and Des Moines, as well as a waning chapter in Storm Lake that Christensen hopes to revitalize.

The repertoire he prepared for the Carroll workshop focused on prelude and offering pieces. Based on hymns, the works add accompaniment to distinguish the music from the simple melody that is played to accompany congregational singing. He also included a series of concert works, written not for church but for the instrument, because they were "just plain fun."

"God created humor and laughter, and I sometimes think that worship becomes very pondersome and introspective," he said. "We miss the opportunity to express the joy and delight of the gift of salvation, and what better way than music to expedite?"



TOWARD HEAVEN

The shadows in the sanctuary sharpen as Christensen shares his stories, the reds, yellows and blues of the stained-glass windows glowing steadily in the light of the sinking sun.

Pausing periodically to demonstrate the organ's potential, the movement of his hands reveals black-and-white keyboard cuff links at his wrists as he plays through page after page of sheet music. The last note fades slowly, lingering a moment in the still silence of the church.

Christensen shares that not all pastors appreciate his suggestion that music is more powerful and pleasing to God than sermons. His joy in his work evident, he leans forward conspiratorially.

"If there is anything an organist can remind a pastor of," he says, a soft smile playing at his lips, "it's that the only thing the Scriptures say begins on earth, and continues into heaven, is singing."


Eric
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The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

KB7DQH

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2015, 10:04:35 PM »
The link to the following article keeps showing up in my Facebook newsfeed ;)

Don't let the title of the following fool you... An excellent case for keeping (or obtaining) an organ ;)

And do read through the comments...


Does the Church Organ Need to Go? – by Mike Harland

April 6, 2015 22 Comments

Does the Church Organ Need to Go-Does the Church organ need to go?

It’s a fair question.

With the onset of rhythm-driven worship in many of our churches, many call the use of the organ into question these days. Often the renovation of worship space includes this question.

Some might say, “We don’t use it anymore. Why don’t we just take it out and put the drum cage over there?”

Wait just a second! You might want to rethink the role of the organ.

The organ is one of the oldest instruments ever invented… dating back to 250 BC. It found it’s way into the worship services of Christians in the 1400’s. And for centuries, it was the dominant instrument of the composers of sacred music. In the Baptist tradition, organists and the organ helped develop the rich tradition of hymn singing and defined the splendor of the congregational song.

In the modern era, some would say the organ has been replaced in many churches by a band or even an orchestra. But, personally, I don’t think those instruments have replaced the organ. I think the small vocal team enhancing the choir or congregation has replaced the organ.

How many articles have you read bemoaning the fact that church congregations don’t sing like they used to sing? I’ve read quite a few and written a couple myself. Most would blame it on the newness of the songs or the decline of church choirs. I agree those points are valid, but I would add, for this discussion, that the reduced role of the organ has also contributed to this reality.

Historically, the organ underscored congregational singing back when congregations really sang. I always thought of it as the “voice” of the people, giving the average congregant a place where their voice could “hide” in the awesome sound of resounding hymns. The organ sound is a safe place to put your voice no matter how you sing.

So try this… instead of shutting the organ down in your worship, use a few less singers on microphones and allow the organ to undergird the congregational song – no matter what style of music you sing. You might just rediscover the power of this instrument.

And every once in a while, let your organist lead your congregation is a transcendent worship experience using an instrument that has the range of power unmatched by any other instrument.

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is coming soon. You could mark it early with an awesome organ version of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

Somehow, the guitar can’t touch that one.

Mike Harland
The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

KB7DQH

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2015, 10:12:57 PM »
Had to split the post due to the 20,000 character size limit... Comments on the previous article to follow...

Comments

    Jerry Wright says   

    April 6, 2015 at 9:50 am   

    Exactly! We still use our organ, and it is a great support of congregational singing. I have a praise band and contemporary worship songs every Sunday along with some traditional hymns. I even use the organ along with the band on some of our contemporary songs, not dominant but supportive. I have a creative organist who makes it work! The organ need not be dominant on every song in order to be relevant. It need not be a showpiece, but can be a really great support to congregational singing.
    Reply

    Darrin Gowan says   

    April 6, 2015 at 1:11 pm   

    “Oh, we’ve got some good organ patches on the secondary synth. We use them for pads quite a bit…”
    -youngish worship pastor, missing the point as I sadly shake my head.
    Reply

    Christopher Clark says   

    April 6, 2015 at 1:31 pm   

    As a younger worship leader, I am probably one of the few in my age bracket who has always championed the organ. The organ “sounds” on keyboards, ect. just don’t give the warmth and sound that fills the room as a real organ gives. My experience has been that congregations always sing better when led or enhanced by an organ. It gives worshipers security to sing out without feeling that they are sticking out. Many would be surprised by the versatility the organ offers. It’s a shame that there are not many who want to take the time to learn the skill needed to play such a magnificent and versatile instrument.
    Reply

        Mac says   

        April 7, 2015 at 11:15 am   

        Nicely stated, Christopher. The reason the organ has lasted for centuries in the church is simply that no other instrument that has the sound to accompany a large number of people in congregational singing. the organ doesn’t need to become an idol in the church any more than a band.

        The organ is very versatile as an orchestral instrument. I don’t think the congregations mind the organ one bit. The disdain for the organ has come more from music and pastoral leadership in churches. Rick Warrren advocates getting rid of anything that looks like traditional church. Slowly, they may be seeing the error of their thinking. Worship is not about giving the congregant a pleasurable experience.
        Reply

    Jordan Colburn says   

    April 6, 2015 at 1:57 pm   

    Good article! I’m our keyboard player at church and I’ve thought for a while now that pad sounds can be modern version of the organ. It basically provides a mellow sound across the frequency range that people can feel comfortable sitting their voice on top of. I tend to play through most intros and outros/repeat choruses and people seem more likely to sing out if I’m playing, but most people probably couldn’t point out exactly what they are hearing or even if I’m playing at all.

    While our church is newer, so no existing organ to contend with, I brought in my Hammond L100 (tonewheel organ, basically a smaller version of a b3). It mostly fits in for gospel/blues/rock songs but it can also be very powerful in place of the pad in bridges to underscore congregational singing.
    Reply

    Carter L. Collins says   

    April 6, 2015 at 6:10 pm   

    Thanks for writing an article that supports the use of the pipe organ in the church. It is terribly underappreciated, even unknown in today’s Evangelical churches. The craft of the organist is an intensive one, requiring great and extended dedication and talent to develop the skills required to fully exploit the complexities of the instrument. The craft of the organist is difficult to master, yet quite rewarding.

    Each pipe organ is nearly as unique as one of the members of the congregation it serves. The unique aspects of each instrument have been carefully designed to meet the needs of the congregants’ singing and the space in which it will serve. A man made representation, if you will, for the body of believers. God created each of us to fulfill a specific purpose in a specific span of time and place. His creations are more perfect than ours, of course, but the creation of an organ requires the best skills and gifts of all involved from inception, to fundraising, to commissioning, to installation, voicing, tuning, and dedication. A complex creation and lasting investment in the art of sacred music.

    In the same way a pipe organ represents God’s creation, it can serve as a representation (not an idol) of God’s mystery and splendor. Both visually and aurally, the instrument serves as a reminder of the complexity and vastness of God. Hundreds of pipes and dozens of voices mix in various ways to create an acoustic sound that somewhat mimics the mechanism of the human voice, and often mimics the or complements the colors created by the human voices of the congregants. The presence of an organ can only ever enhance the aesthetic of worship, if well stewarded by the congregation it serves.

    Singing with any other instrument is never as inspiring or encouraging. Piano decays, guitar fades, and electronic sound is ever (yet increasingly less) artificial and somehow incorrect (for the God-ordained, and scripturally required act of congregational singing…yes, it is required that all Christians sing congregationally [Ps. 92:1, 100:2, Col. 3:16, many other psalms]). Experientially, I can attest to this being true even when accompanied by large orchestral forces. The first verses of “Low in the Grave” on [Easter] Sunday was accompanied by orchestra, piano, and organ (plenum). The final verse saw the piano and orchestra taking second chair to the might of the pipe organ as stops were pulled and shimmering and bombastic voices emerged above the other instruments sounding the tune of the hymn with pristine clarity and proud declaration. The result? The congregation sang more fully and clearly than I had heard a congregation sing in too many Sundays. This was not an affectation, put upon artificially to encourage louder singing. The words to the hymn are triumphal (especially the chorus), and the organ’s full power added to the aesthetic truth (to borrow a concept from Scott Aniol of Religious Affections) of the hymn, and the effect was profound. The organ fulfilled its purpose.

    In a world of widespread illiteracy of music, and a sort of ignorance of ignorance regarding musical history, sacred musical heritage, and the connections between music and theology and the practical application thereof, it is not surprising to find that a great deal of opinion is being tossed about with no unified actions being taken. People cannot read music (recent educational efforts are taking flight, and becoming more effective), and do not even know what they don’t know about the purpose of music in the life of a Christian. Long-suffering arts like organ building and organ playing are left in the niche markets of church music. Unfortunate from my perspective. I make the argument that a solution to congregational singing (a requirement, remember?) is increased use and dedication to preservation of the pipe organ. It is the only stand alone instrument currently found that is capable of both mimicking the human voice accurately enough to inspire the listener (however illiterate or ignorant of music) to sing more fully and enthusiastically, and strong enough to support a church building filled to the walls with lustily singing congregants recounting the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs we are admonished to sing today.

    These are my opinions, and I am not attempting to bend scripture to fit my personal aesthetic. Rather, I hope to inspire a greater aesthetic in congregational singing by reminding all of us why we sing…if that entails an increase in the use of the pipe organ, so be it. What I really hope to see is an increase in the quality and quantity of congregational singing. It is what we are supposed to do when we worship corporately, and I am loathe of congregational singing with no enthusiasm or sense of purpose. It is a beautiful act of adoration and love to God and to one another, one which we should approach with reverence. Even in regard to congregational singing, we can benefit from the words of William Carey, “Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God”.

    In response to other comments:

    Thank you Jerry for your attempt to encourage congregational singing by supporting your voices.

    Thanks Christopher for understanding the merits of acoustic sound and how that encourages singing among the congregants. At 24, I understand the rarity you speak of in regard to the support of pipe organ in the church.

    Thanks Jordan, for your contribution. The Hammond sound has been a staple in Gospel churches for years. For my own curiosity, have you ever sat at a pipe organ console? Larger organs can have overwhelmingly complex consoles, but some moderately sized ones are easy to understand and play with some simple instruction and terminology. The difference in sound production between a pipe organ and something like a b3 or Leslie is quite notable…yet the basic principle is quite similar (the application is quite different though). They are majestic instruments combining many elements into a coherent unit for one express purpose, the worship of God.

   More comments in the article...

http://worshiplife.com/2015/04/06/does-the-church-organ-need-to-go-by-mike-harland/

Eric
KB7DQH
The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

revtonynewnham

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2015, 10:06:35 AM »
Hi

For some reason, I must have missed the post in this thread on 7th Feb.  Scanning through it this morning, I discover the writer says "Only a pipe organ has the power as a single instrument to proclaim the great victory of the risen Christ," which is patent nonsense - and is contradicted by Psalm 150 as well as experience.  The same appies to the comment that implies that historically, the pipe organ has always been associated with the church, which again is untrue, although, as the subsequent post points out, it is,in many countries & denominations, a long history; although there are still churches where the use of any instrumental music is banned.

Here in the UK, until the 2nd half of the 19th century, the majority of churches didn't have organs.  I guess many smaller churches had no music, others would have used "west Gallery" bands & singers - and that's a whole musical tradition in itself, and one that's well worth reading up on.

Organs were unknown in Free Churches (i.e. non-Anglican or Roman Catholic) until after 1850 - and their introduction often caused dissent and even church splits.  One common reason for opposition was that the organ would dominate the singing, and people wouldn't bother to sing.

There has to be room for variety in forms of worship (but not always in the same service!).  We need to educate congregations that the organ is  more than just a "hymn machine" - and that as well as being used solo to lead singing, or to accompany a choir (where there is a competent choir, they should lead the singing, and the organ accompany - which is why many UK organs stuffed into chancel chambers to be close to the choir, now fail to lead singing adequately now the choir has gone).  The organ can also be effectively used as part of a worship band, or with other instruments- so that we can "let everything that has breath praise the Lord".
 

Paul Duffy

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2015, 11:13:46 PM »
Your opinion speaks volumes about what the clergy thinks about pipe organs Tony,  i.e that they are a nuisance really and that their roles should be usurped as much as possible. This attitude will only ensure the slow death of the instrument. I cannot tell you how angry I feel at your comments. I feel I have completely wasted my time learning this bastard of an instrument. What WAS the bloody point? All those painful pedal exercises, all that effort directed at co-ordination. It was all a total WASTE of time. It wasn't appreciated. It never will be appreciated. And because of this, I am beginning to hate the instrument itself. I really should have learned three chords on a guitar and saved myself a lot of time money and effort.
We are just like trainspotters really. They love railways, but the railways don't love them.

Best wishes,
Paul.

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Re: Ritual, yes, and necessary for ritual, but so much more
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2015, 11:46:10 PM »
Your opinion speaks volumes about what the clergy thinks about pipe organs Tony,  i.e that they are a nuisance really and that their roles should be usurped as much as possible. This attitude will only ensure the slow death of the instrument. I cannot tell you how angry I feel at your comments. I feel I have completely wasted my time learning this bastard of an instrument. What WAS the bloody point? All those painful pedal exercises, all that effort directed at co-ordination. It was all a total WASTE of time. It wasn't appreciated. It never will be appreciated. And because of this, I am beginning to hate the instrument itself. I really should have learned three chords on a guitar and saved myself a lot of time money and effort.

The only points I saw in Tony's post were facts, and an opinion about organs being used in conjunction with other instruments (which I don't necessarily agree with).  Where was it implied or indicated that clergy think organs are nuisance?  This would certainly be the opposite of my experience  and many other's that I know.  Please spare us the 'wasted time' rhetoric, organists do not suffer for the benefit of the church, they have a marvellous time learning an enormously rewarding instrument with the icing on the cake being able to contribute to ministry through music. If your experience differs, then perhaps trainspotting beckons.

Kind regards,

James




 


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